Thursday, February 16, 2012
Carmel High School American history teacher Marc Stafford played in a touring band throughout college. That prepared him to recognize something when he first hit campus.
“When I got to Carmel High I saw a lot of [musical] talent,” he says.
That observation prompted action: A couple years ago, he and a colleague, science teacher and former rock photographer Michael Guardino, put together the CHS Singers and Songwriters Guild, an engine for students to hone their craft, perform and learn a little about the biz.
Since the club began, they’ve put on several performances and have a member list of around 35.
“This year, the kids were interested in trying to promote a show,” Stafford says.
One of the initial ideas of the club was to bring in touring musicians to hold workshops. Ryan Scott – a successful session musician in New York City and Carmel High alum – appeared the perfect fit: By the age of 18, Scott had shown off his guitar chops at the Monterey Jazz Festival and fests in Europe and Japan. His gift for guitar resembles the stuff jazz great Bill Frisell lays down, with a grungy influence plucked from Nirvana’s Unplugged. Rotten Tomatoes’ Jeff Giles writes that Scott’s voice “blends Ray LaMontagne’s world-weary folk/soul rasp, John Mayer’s jazz-inflected licks, and Jeff Buckley’s ethereal intensity.”
“[Scott] will be able to talk to the students from a place that other touring musicians might not be able to since he’s been in these classrooms,” Stafford says.
On Friday, Scott will speak to the students about his career during a special assembly. In the evening, he will perform with his full band, which will be open to the public. The show will begin with performances by the students involved with the CHS Singers and Songwriters Guild.
Stafford says the five student groups performing dabble in everything from folk and pop to punk and bluegrass.
“The kids have been in charge of putting the whole show together logistically,” he says. “A lot of them are nervous about playing originals but that’s the goal, to hone songwriting skills.”
One of the groups is made up of cellist Kane Suga and club president and National Honor Choir member Melanie Ingram. The duo scored big in last year’s Pacific Grove Battle of the Bands.
“They got together through the club and ended up winning with just cello and vocal stuff,” Stafford says. “They’re the two that the rest of the underclassmen look up to in terms of poise and stage presence.”
Stafford describes Ingram and Suga’s sound as “indie folk… beautifully simple.”
Though the two talented seniors are closing in on graduation, Stafford is excited by all the possibilities that lie ahead for them; whether they choose music as a destiny or something else.
“There’s many paths to success in music,” he says. “And it can be a career.” Which is music to students’ ears.
RYAN SCOTT AND THE CARMEL HIGH SINGERS AND SONGWRITERS GUILD start performing 7pm Friday, Feb. 17, at Carmel High School, 3600 Ocean Ave., Carmel. $10; $6 for CHS students with ABS card. 624-1821.